Author Topic: EL LOBO DEL MAR  (Read 3359780 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #345 on: September 28, 2016, 08:19:16 PM »
They each took a corner and stripped the bed to the mattress. Honour looked down and under it.
"No bed bugs. That's good. See here? Lemon balm. Bugs hate it."
"So the bed is good to sleep in?"
"I would say so. Let's put the new sheets on the bed."

Within a few minutes, the bed was put into shape. Jack lit another candle that was on the chest of drawers.
"Gran thinks we are at an inn. Tell you the truth, Honour, darling....but this is almost better."
"How so?"
"First, it isn't costing us anything and it is romantic, isn't it? Staying in a haunted house."

She retorted, "I'm not fond of haunted houses. I had my fill of Castlemaine. And this place definitely has the feel of that horrid place."
Jack drew the covers back.
"I say we open a bottle of this whiskey, knock back a few and relive a fond memory," he grinned.
She took the bottle of cognac out of his hand.
"I'll have a bit of this. My clothes are still wet."

Jack found a stash of logs which had dried out nicely for firewood and within fifteen minutes had a fire going in the brick fireplace. Honour stood in front of the fire, with her hands extended to warm them.
"Mmm...this feels nice. I didn't realize how cold I was."
Her chemise clung to her body, her dress having been shed in the interest of drying off.
"I'll tell you what will feel even nicer," Jack said.
He took a few pillows off the bed, and put the coverlet on the floor.
"Now come sit next to me."
"I don't know, Jack Wolfe. Every time I do, something always happens."
He grinned and patted a space next to him.
"You can at least be grateful that I was able to fix that shutter so it stopped banging against the wall."
She walked over and smiled at him as she drank the last of her cognac. He took her glass and refilled it as she sat next to him on the floor.
They clinked glasses together.

"I'm going to miss Aggie when we go back to Barbados. And the rest of the MacGregor cousins. Maybe you could get her to come back with us?"
"Move Aggie to Barbados? Scotland would fall!"

Jack put his arm around her.
"You know, I am glad we had this storm and found this place. I don't know...it seems right, our being here."
"I never knew you for going into fanciful notions, Captain Wolfe. Must be the highlands getting under your skin."
She fanned herself.
"The fire seems so hot now."
She took the ribbon out of her hair and shook it. Wet strands cascaded down her back.
Jack grinned. "I'll do you one better."
He took off his shirt.
"Oh yeah?'
She dropped her chemise down off her shoulders, laying back against his chest, his arms encircling her.
"You're right. It is the wild highlands, lassie. I must say you have been quite the inspiration."
He caressed her shoulder as her chemise slipped down a bit more.
She closed her eyes. "If you kiss my neck in the way you always do, there is no telling what can happen."
He took the glass of cognac out of her hand. With that, he laid her down gently on the coverlet.

He kissed her deeply, feeling her body rise to meet his. Even less of her chemise was in the way now. He relished the sensation of her skin against his.
"I've had only a sip or two of cognac, but you have my head spinning. How you have bewitched me! I don't know if it's this old house or the storm—"
Honour stopped him with a kiss. "Forget the house and the storm. Let's make our own thunder and lightning."
No more words were necessary as they gave themselves over to one
another, their intensity of their passion rivaling that of the storm outside.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #346 on: October 12, 2016, 01:15:16 PM »
Honour snuggled down into the covers and closer to Jack.
"Mmm....there is nothing like a down comforter and a soft bed on a stormy night."
She laid her head against his shoulder and he put his arm around her, drawing her ever closer to him as he stroked her shoulder.
"Hmm?" he said drowsily.
"Do you think we will ever find out about the people in the house?"
He yawned. "I don't know. The name is familiar....but I just can't remember the story."
"Did you latch the window?"
"Yes, dear."
"And is the door locked?"
"The horses are alright?"
"Yes, they are safe in the stable. Would you please quit worrying?"
"I can't help it. It's my nature. I feel like I did when we were in that temple. Like I am intruding."
"If it will make you feel any better, we will be safe as houses at Gran's by tomorrow afternoon."
"Will you take a look downstairs?"
"But I heard a noise."
"No. I'm settled in. Nothing will harm you, Honour. If it makes you feel any better....."
He walked over to a haversack he brought with him and withdrew a revolver.
"It's loaded and ready to fire."
"But what if...?"
"No more what ifs. I'm tired. Maybe I am showing my age."
She laughed. "Maybe you need to save some energy instead of expending it in one place."
He laughed. "Fat chance.Go to sleep."
"No, you don't get another glass of water. Or cognac. Just shut your eyes, Honour."
"Enough. The candle is going out."
He reached over to the night stand and blew it out.
"Goodnight, darling."

Honour hadn't been asleep but an hour when she suddenly woke up out of a sound sleep.
"Wh..who's there?"
All she heard was a swish of fabric that sounded like satin rubbing together.
She put her fist to her mouth to stifle a scream.

On the wall was a shadow of what appeared to be a woman in a flowing dress.
"Jack..Jack!" she could barely get the words out as she shook him.

Jack managed to open his eyes. He sat straight up.
"Honour...what the hell is this about?"
Her trembling hand pointed to the wall.
"It...it's a ghost..." she could barely get the words out.
Jack groaned. "This is getting ridiculous." He tried to strike a flint but Honour was clutching his arm.
"Honour, would you let go of my arm?"
He struck the flint and lit the candle on the nightstand.
"Now, look. Do you see a shadow?"
"Do you think you would see a shadow with the candle shining against the wall?"
"I guess so."
"But you don't. So therefore there is nothing there."
"But, Jack..ghosts are transparent. There is nothing there to cast a shadow."
He exasperatedly got out of bed.
He ran his hand over the wall."
"See? Nothing there. NOW can we get some sleep?"
She looked sheepishly down. "I'm sorry. I guess I am a bit nervous...you know, this reminding me of Castlemaine..."
Jack got into bed and drew the covers up over them.
He punched his pillow down and rolled over.
"Just go to sleep, Honour. The storm is settling down. We will leave tomorrow morning.
But for now I am sleepy and full of cognac and I spent my energy for a very worthwhile cause."
He started to drift off as he said, "Just because a place is said to be haunted..."
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 02:03:41 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #347 on: November 14, 2016, 03:59:53 PM »
Jack realised his faux pas too late. He opened one eye and prayed Honour didn't hear him.
"What? You are saying that this house is haunted...HAUNTED? And you knew it all along?
You mean these ghost may have been watching- I mean..the fireplace? They were watching us make love?"
'Bollocks,'Jack muttered. 'There goes any hope of a good night's sleep.'
Honour was sitting bolt upright in the bed, staring at her husband in disbelief.
"What the hell do you mean, this place is haunted? "
Jack screwed his eyes shut, regretting his slip of the tongue.
"Honour, it's just a local legend. No doubt to keep looters away. Obviously, it worked."
"And just how long have you known this is a haunted house?"
"Well, remember how I mentioned a few times that something seemed familiar about this place?"
"Yes, I do."
"And then I quit mentioning it?"
"Yes," she said icily.
"Right about then."

She glared at him, then brought her fist down hard against his chest.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"For not telling me we're in some sort of haunted mansion, that's what!"
"I'm sorry. Yes, I should have told you. But I got distracted."
"What could possibly distract you from telling me something so important?"
Jack shrugged sheepishly. "You took off your dress. You're lucky I can remember my own name when you do that."
"If we get out of this alive, I may never burden your intellect so ever again."
"Now, just a minute..."
"Jack, either you tell me everything you know about this godforsaken house this instant, or I swear I'll ride out this storm in the barn with the horses."

"All right, fine," he said resignedly.
"And tell me everything. I've already seen a ghost tonight, and I'm not happy about it."
"Fair enough..."
"And tell me when you knew it. When you remembered."
"Oh, no. I'm not going to incriminate myself so thoroughly. I was a pirate too long to fall for that one."
"Then just tell me. All of it."

Jack took a deep breath and let it out sharply. "When I was a lad, my cousins told me about this place. About the tragedy that happened here and the evil that took root. They tried to get me to come here, but my parents always forbid it. So eventually I forgot this place even existed. Until now."
Honour swallowed hard. "Go on."
"I guess it was about forty-five years ago, but this house - Caelibourne House it's called, just like the name over the mantelpiece downstairs - was owned by a man named Ellair Drummond. He was wealthy and privileged and made sure everyone knew it. He had a much younger wife, named Kyla. She was given to him in marriage to cancel out the debts incurred by her father to Drummond. It was pretty much a loveless marriage on Kyla's part."
"This all has a familiar ring to it."
"One more reason I didn't want to bring it up."
"So it wasn't my getting undressed in front of you that caused your amnesia?"
"Shush. Anyway, Ellair allowed Kyla a few freedoms, including her own library and letting her ride the perimeter of his lands. That's when she met a young lad one day as he was checking his traps. Rory MacGregor was his name. They hit it off, and the next thing you know Rory was checking his traps on a daily basis if you get what I mean."
"Love blossomed."
"And so did Kyla's belly. When she learned of her pregnancy, Rory begged her to run off with him and be his wife. She agreed, and they hatched a plan for her escape."

Honour put her hand over her mouth. "Then that brooch..."
"The Luckenbooth, yes. It makes sense that she would hide it. Rory gave it to her as a betrothal gift."
"Is that why I saw her? Because I found the brooch?"
"You'll have to take that up with her."
"Since I discovered it, that's what I'm afraid of."
"I wouldn't worry. From what I understand, she's not interested in women."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, the story goes that Ellair discovered their plan and he ambushed young Rory.  Ran him through and left him to die on the forest road. Then he took his bloody sword back to Kyla as a trophy. When he showed it to her, she went instantly mad from grief and threw herself from the rooftop. The legend goes on to say that mad Kyla still roams these halls, searching for her beloved Rory. Any man caught alone by her will be dragged to the other side, mistaken for her one true love."

"Jack, that's horrifying! Didn't you think for a moment you might be in danger?"
"Of course not! Ghost stories are a load of bollocks anyway. I don't give them a second thought."
"Even though I saw her myself, without knowing a thing about any legend?"
"That does add a wrinkle, I suppose..."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #348 on: November 23, 2016, 09:30:44 PM »
The next morning.....

Honour bent down to pick up the cognac bottles that were left by the fireplace.
'Jack Wolfe, you are so messy,' she said to herself.
As she glanced up, her eyes fell on the fireplace. She stood back and it was barely discernable.
The symmetry of the bricks looked off. She moved closer and it looked straight.
'One...two...three...four...five. And six rows down.....' she counted.
The brick was slightly askew. She touched it and found it jutted out just a bit. Not so a casual eye would notice it.

Looking left and right,  she looked over the bannister and called out to Jack.
"What are you doing down there?"
A hesitation then---"Nothing."
"Nothing, my arse," she said under her breath.

Quickly she worked to move the brick. Back and forth, the brick scraped against the others.
Gently then more insistently she worked. Finally the brick worked free suddenly, Honour landing on her bottom with the brick in her hand.
"What's that racket up there?" Jack called.
"Nothing. I just dropped...something."
She scurried over to the fireplace and the gaping hole. Gingerly putting her hand in it, she closed her eyes, hoping a rat wasn't there.
And that was when she found it.

It was a bound book, wrapped in oilcloth. It fit neatly in her hand and was bound in a heavy watered silk in shades of pink. A silver ribbon was used as a bookmark. Inside were the initials KED in small neat handwriting. The pages crinkled as she carefully opened it, the yellowed pages covered with words written in faded, brown ink.
'My goodness, this is something out of a fairytale!' she exclaimed.

From downstairs she heard, "Honour, are you packing up?"
"Yes, darling,"
She heard Jack mount the stairs and hastily wrapped the diary back in the cloth, shoving it into a cloth bag she carried.

Jack came up with six bottles of cognac in his arms.
"What are you doing, Jack Wolfe? Stealing?"
"Not exactly."
"Uh huh. Looks like it to me. Pirate!"
"I figured it this way--this cognac has been here for over fifty years. Any longer and it runs the risk of spoiling. So...I bought it."
"How so?"
"I left ten shillings on the desk in the library. That way, it isn't stealing and whoever the house belongs to can pocket the money."
"Oh, good grief! Ghosts can't spend money."
"Is that my problem?" He raised an eyebrow.
"What if the ghost isn't willing to sell?"
"Then he can veto the sale. But he has to find me first."
"The ghost I saw was a female. Most likely Kyla trying to get rid of me so she can have a sporting good time with you."
"Oh, for Pete's sake, Honour!"

"As long as we are at the bargaining stage, help me with something."
She walked back to the parlor, Jack following close behind.
"Pick up that end."
"Are you crazy? We can't take a harpsichord back! This is out and out stealing!"
"No more so than your cognac."
"I only have a few--alright maybe a dozen--bottles of cognac that will go bad if they are not enjoyed. This is major pilfering."
"Is not. This is a work of art that will be ruined if no one takes it to appreciate it. Can't you just picture Zara sitting down to play a lovely little French tune?"
"How do you plan on transporting it? And what will we tell Aggie when a harpsichord just shows up?"
"Oh, Jack. You always tend to overthink things."
"How do you plan to get it out the door?"

Honour framed her hands into a square and sized up the door.
"If we take the legs off...."
"You intend to take it out in pieces?"
She walked around it. "It can't be hard...."
"And with what tools?"
Honour looked around as if she would find one there.
"Has to be some in the barn. If we turn it sideways...."
She ignored him and tried to lift up one end.
"Would you please put some muscle into it?"
"I'm not going to do it."
"Do you want me to injure my back? Because if I do, you know what that means. I will be lying in bed unable to move. And you know what THAT means."
He gently touched her hand.
"I have never denied you anything, sweetheart. But this time the answer is no."
Honour began to drag it across the floor inch by inch.
Finally Jack yelled, "STOP IT!"
Startled, she stopped in her tracks, knowing she had finally pushed Jack too far.

"Alright then" she sighed. "Am I forgiven for being such a music lover?"
He put his hands on her shoulders. "Darling, I would move mountains for you. But a harpsichord? I'll buy you one when we get back to Barbados."
He led her out of the parlor but she gave a backward glance.
"Now I know how Lot's wife felt...."

"Can you lay down a few quid for some of these books I would like? There are a few books on elixirs and herbs and a book on roses and I really do like these two books on poetry."
"Now who wants to barter with ghosts?"
She sighed. "You're right. It's grave-robbing."
"No, not really. We are taking something and putting it to good use."
"Come on, let's go home to Zara."
"I suppose. Lord knows what stories Aggie has told her."
"As long as it isn't the legend of Caelibourne House!"

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #349 on: December 06, 2016, 07:48:37 PM »
Honour and Jack walked down to the stables, arm in arm. He looked around.
"Quite a few branches and limbs down but look how blue the sky is today!"
"The air smells so fresh and clean." She took a deep breath.
"Anything smells fresh compared to the stuffy old house."
Jack threw the stable door back and the horses pawed the ground anxiously. "Let's turn them out to the meadow for their breakfast for a half hour."

Jack spread a blanket down over the grass.
"Do you want any of this fine cognac?"
"No, and neither do you. Save it for some hot coffee with eggs and ham. Because you know Aggie. She will have a full spread for us."
"More likely lunch if those horses don't finish their breakfast. Oi! You two! Get a move on!"

The horses ambled over to Jack and Honour. Honour stood up quickly and sat down. "I must be hungrier than I thought. I felt a bit light-headed."
"Aggie will soon fix that. For being Scottish, she isn't your typical 'boil and fry' cook."
"I hope I can make shortbread like she can. Do you think she will give me the recipe?"
"She'd be thrilled. Come on, sweetheart. Let's go home to the baby."
"Sorry--jumping ahead. Zara is more the toddler now."
"More like a little girl but I'll hold on to the toddler notion. I don't want her growing up too fast."
"She needs a brother or sister, you know."
"I'll make a deal with you. Let's get serious about it when we get back to Barbados."
"Deal. Now let's get the horses and go back to Aggie's."

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #350 on: December 26, 2016, 09:07:32 PM »
As they rounded the lane, Honour glanced back. "I think..."
All of sudden she brought her horse up short and Jack's horse banged into the rear of hers.
"Whoa! Honour, what in hell are you--"
She spurred her horse and took off in the direction of the back of the manor through a small copse of trees.
He followed her. She threw her reins down and dismounted.
"Oh my God!"

As she rounded the corner of the manor house, she got a better view of the destruction that had first caught her eye. What was once a modern addition to the oldest section of the house lay in beautiful, twisted ruins. A low wall of stone described the perimeter of the narrow wing. It jutted from the house a good thirty feet or more, and was roughly fifteen feet wide, with a rounded end one would expect to find with a solarium. A wild overgrowth of ivy had since tried to reclaim the structure, the vines winding over scorched rock, burnt planks, and distorted wrought iron. The ironworks that had once formed the arching enclosure of this grand room now went their own ways high overhead, some still reaching for the sky, some languishing as if in mourning. Bits of broken glass, both clear and stained, clung here and there to the warped ironworks as if they too yearned for daylight as did the leaves of the vines.

Honour pushed aside the tangled ivy to peer inside the space. Charred stone and tile could be glimpsed through the foliage. Little else could be discerned, save the remains of a heavy divan and a wilted wrought iron table whose glass top long ago shattered in the inferno that claimed this section of Cailebourne House, and with it, the anguished Kyla Drummond.

Jack caught up to where Honour had left her horse. He regarded the ruined section of the house somberly before dismounting to join his wife.
"So this is what lay beyond that boarded up section we found," he said quietly. "It explains a lot."
"This is where she... she ended it all," said Honour, her voice scarcely above a whisper. "That poor heartbroken woman. The stories were true."
"At least about how she died. The rest of it... well, it's kept the riff-raff out all these years."
"It didn't slow you down."
"That's because I'm not just any old riff-raff."
"Pirate riff-raff is of a higher order, then?" she said with a smirk.
"Works in a pinch. Always has."

He turned to look back at the horses when something caught his attention. "Hello, there. What's that?"
Honour slowly turned to see where he was looking, hoping all the while no one was standing there. Soon she saw what he was talking about.
At the base of one of the large oak trees was a low, rectangular stone embedded in the ground.
They walked over to it, and Honour read aloud the name etched into the stone's face.


"This is her grave."
"But why here?" asked Jack. "This isn't a proper cemetery. No dates on the headstone, either. Just her name. Like an afterthought."
"Most people around here are Catholic, aren't they?"
"The ones who don't care to get lynched, yes. Why?"
"She committed suicide. They would never allow her to be buried in a consecrated cemetery. A private burial like this would be the only option."

Honour walked a few steps away to a clump of wildflowers ??and bent down.
"What are you doing?"
She took out her hair ribbon and bound up a small bouquet of wild roses and lilies.
Silently she walked over to the grave and dropped to her knees. A tear trickled down her cheek.
'Kyla, there but for the grace of God, go I," she whispered almost inaudibly. "Rest in peace, sweet lady."
Jack came beside her and lifted her gently to her feet.
She put her arms around Jack's neck and wept.
"I--I'm so sorry. I am feeling a bit emotional lately. I guess it hits too close to things in my life. Poor, poor Kyla..."

Jack cradled her and looked back at the house. "You know, I think we've had enough sadness for one day. How about we head back to Gran's for a warm hearth and hot food and the laughter of our little girl?"
"I'd like that. The sooner we're away from here, the better."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #351 on: January 04, 2017, 07:57:42 PM »
Honour looked back at the manor from her horse.
"It doesn't look so scary in the light of day and in the sunshine."
"We can always come back." Jack dangled the key from his finger.
"What do you think you are doing with that?"
"Well, there are more bottles of cognac lying in the cellar and they aren't doing anyone any good."
"That's stealing."
"Pirate, darling. Besides I leave money for them. The ghosts can spend it as they see fit."
"It will be good to get back to Zara."

 "I wonder how spoiled Gran will have made her. She seems to be the apple of Aggie's eye."
"Speaking of which, don't you think you should be telling her the real reason we are here? The Stone of Destiny...."
He sighed heavily. "I suppose you're right. She already knows I've not told her everything about why we're here."
"Are you worried she won't believe you?"
"No. I'm worried she won't believe I'm sincere. If you hadn't noticed, I have something of a reputation for pursuing profitable ventures."
"Well, you aren't looking to sell the Stone to the highest bidder or anything likewise underhanded. Aggie would never think that of you."
"Oh, really? Jumping to conclusions is something my family excels at."
"Now THAT I have noticed," said Honour with smirk.

"Jack, no matter how worried you are about her reaction, you still have to tell her. That, or we forget about the Stone entirely and go home. If finding it truly is important to you, you won't let her opinion stop you."
He thought about her words in silence for a few moments. "I'm being too careful, aren't I?"
"Yes, and you're terrible at it. Reckless suits you best. Pirate, remember?"
"As long as you never tire of that side of me, love."

Honour looked off in the distance.
"I think you owe it to Zara to find the Stone. After all, this is her legacy too. She's one quarter Scot."
"And half Welsh."
Honour shrugged. "We are a beaten people. Damn Henry VIII passed the Laws in Wales Act one hundred years ago. The legal system was abolished and the Welsh language was banned from any official role or status.  And him being half-Welsh himself.
And that bastard Longshanks gave the title of Prince of Wales to his son. Don't think we Welsh have ever forgiven that."
"Honour, you sound like a patriot."
She laughed a bit bitterly, "Not a patriot. But the Conaways always hated to be subdued. You met Rhodri. Case closed."
Jack nodded. "And I'll rest that case."
"But can you imagine the pride and the family stories that will be handed down? How Mad Jack Wolfe ensured the monarchy of Scotland? Even if no one ever tells the tale outside of the family."

Honour hesitated and bit her lip. "Jack...how much do you think Aggie knows about the Stone?"

"Aggie has a knack for finding things out. I'm sure being married to Tom-Cat MacGregor had something to do with it. Even though she's a woman, I'm banking on her knowing quite a bit."
"What do you mean, 'even though she's a woman'?" asked Honour.
"Supposedly, portions of the directions to finding the Stone were divided up between a few families and given in secret to the first-born males of each generation. That way no single person should have all the information. It also ensures no feuding between the families."
"So how does Aggie figure in?"
"Tommy was a first-born. And Tommy liked his whiskey."
"And I take it Tommy liked to talk when he enjoyed a bit too much whiskey?"
"Among other things. With any luck, he got to talking about the Stone."

"I think the sooner you talk to Aggie, the quicker you can get the Stone retrieved and we can go back home to Barbados."
"Honour, are you not having a good time?"
She smiled and patted his hand. "Of course I am. Your family is so rambunctious and I love them all. If I had my way, I would shanghai the lot of them and take them back with us. But I miss my kitchen. The sun coming in and the warm sea breeze when the windows and doors are open. And I miss Mrs. Avery and her scones. I am afraid if I stay away too long, Megan will abscond with her. She has gotten quite attached to Morwenna and Dylan. I think that is why Zara latched on to Aggie so. She's soft and motherly like Mrs. Avery."

Jack sighed. "You are right. Best I get this started. I'll talk to Gran tonight when it's quiet. Do you want to be there for it?"
She shook her head. "No, I think it would be easier if it were just the two of you. Besides--"
She felt the journal bounce in her bag. "--I have a new book to start."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #352 on: January 14, 2017, 08:14:17 PM »

Honour and Jack emerged from the copse of trees and trotted their horses around the bend in the lane.
Jack pulled the reins on his horse and stopped, Honour following suit.
"I think we should keep the night we spent in the Drummond estate between you and me, Honour. Let Gran think we stayed the night in the inn."
"Whatever for? I would think you would like to have told her all about what we found."
He shook his head.
"No. I am about to present to her the real reason for our visit. If she knew I broke into an abandoned house, what sort of thoughts do you think would float through her mind?"

Honour frowned, the pilfered diary weighing like a stone in her bag.
"But I was so hoping she could maybe tell us some stories on it. Like if what you had said happened to Kyla and her love were really true. I would like to think there is a happily ever after in there."
"Maybe...when the time is right. But for now, our lips are sealed."
She nodded. "Agreed."

They trotted the horses into the stables and groomed them quickly. Arm in arm, they headed up the small slope to the house.
"Ah...there you are! And did you have a grand time at the inn?"
Jack quickly replied, "We had a grand time indeed, Gran."
Aggie sneaked a peek at Honour's face which was showing the blush due to the omission of truth. Aggie was mistaking it for the glow of having time alone with her husband.

Aggie smiled to herself as Honour reached over to pick up Zara.
"And has my little girl behaved?"
"Aye, that she has. We went out to the meadow and picked some wild mountain thyme and some heather. Then we made some shortbread and then I showed her how to hold her hands on the keys of that piano over there. She will be musical, she will. My Edythe could play the bodhran. Her brother Angus could play the fiddle. All my children are musically inclined. They got that from me," she said proudly. "And now it's almost time for dinner. Honour, be a dear and please set the table."

Aggie served salmon patties with potatoes and leeks.
"Gran, this is delicious. Did Rafferty and Flannery catch this?"
Aggie retorted, "Of course not. Wee Zara and I went fishing right after the storm. Why, the salmon practically leaped into our basket!"
Jack laughed, "I had forgotten you liked to fish." He turned to Honour, "No one could bait a hook faster than Agnes MacGregor."
Zara piped up with, "But Gran said no selkies."
 Honour raised her eyebrow as Jack roared with laughter.
'Selkies. Gran, how are we ever going to compete with your stories?"
Aggie grinned, "She kept begging for more. I never did see a lass's eyes get so wide."

Jack scooped Zara up and fed her blackberries and cream while Honour helped Aggie with the dishes. When the dish towels were hung up,  Honour picked up Zara and announced, "It's high time Zara went to bed. I'll be upstairs getting her settled in. Aggie, thank you again for watching her."
"The pleasure was all mine, dear."

Jack and Honour exchanged a wordless conversation accompanied by facial gestures and hand signals.
Aggie turned around and Honour hurried to make a point of Zara waving goodnight. With a  raised eyebrow at Jack and a nod from him, she climbed the stairs.

Jack accepted the dram of scotch that Aggie had poured and she put her feet up on the footstool in front of the fireplace. She reached in her basket and picked up her knitting.
"Gran, we need to talk."
"I'm listening."
"As you know, I am unloading my cargo and taking back some scottish woolens and---"
"Excuse me?"
"We've danced around the subject too long now. And I know hand signals between a man and his woman. So say what is on your mind."

Jack took a healthy swig of his whiskey, drew a deep breath and said, "I'm here to find the Stone of Destiny."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #353 on: January 25, 2017, 08:35:43 PM »
Aggie's mouth set in a firm line and all Jack could hear is the clacking of her knitting needles.
"I'd like you to read this letter. I am going to be honest with you. The man who wrote this--Will Harkness--was a pirate and my mentor. He gave that up and is a respectable businessman in the Colonies. But he is also a Scotsman and dare I say, a patriot."

He drew a deep breath. "I want to find the Stone and return it to Scotland if it is not here."
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"I thought you might help me."
"And what would I know?"
"You were married to Tommy and he was the firstborn and...never mind, Gran. It makes it all too clear. Whatever I say, you will not believe I am sincere and not in this for selfish gain. But as you so often point out, I am half-Scot. Perhaps it's time I live up to that. This is how I intend to do it."

She continued to knit, not saying a word.
Jack sighed.
"Gran, please. Don't do this. Not the MacGregor silence. It was bad enough when mum did it. Just say you'll think it over, yeah? Please? Just read the letter and think it over."

Still no word from Aggie.
He laid the letter down on the table beside her.
"I'll leave it here in case you have a change of heart and decide to read it. If you decide not to help us, well...I wish I could say I understand. But if you don't, there is no reason for us to stay any longer. We will be sailing home by the end of the week. Honour is getting homesick and has catered to my whims long enough."

Aggie stared at the fire, her needles still working away.
Jack paused on the staircase.
"I really did have cargo to unload."
"Goodnight, Gran."
And met with more silence.

As soon as she heard his bedroom door shut, Aggie MacGregor picked up the letter and carefully unfolded it.

My Most Erstwhile Captain Wolfe....
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #354 on: February 03, 2017, 09:45:43 PM »
Honour rocked her sleeping child and raised her finger to her lips.
"Shhh...." she whispered.
She got up and went into the alcove and laid Zara down in her little bed.
Jack stood by the window and looked out, his arms braced against the window frame.
She put her arms around him and laid her cheek against his back.
"I'm so sorry."
"She sat there. And didn't say a word. Just got that tight mouth that the MacGregors are famous for."
He turned to Honour. "She doesn't believe me. She doesn't believe I have changed and the way her silence spoke for her.....I think it is time we start collecting our things and get ready to leave. I don't want to overstay our welcome. And from now on, it will be awkward."

Honour nodded. "It was worth the try. You did get to make amends with her---to a degree, I don't know, it may be undone by now. But she did get to see her daughter's granddaughter. And I did so enjoy meeting Maura, Laura and Fiona. And the men, of course."
He wrapped his arms around her.
"And making love in the heather?"
She smiled and put her arms around his neck.
"And in the meadow...and in the haunted house...and carving our name in the oak tree for posterity...."
He kissed the tip of her nose.
"You, my dear, are a hopeless romantic."
She kissed him back.
"No...hopeful. Hopeful romantic.
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #355 on: February 08, 2017, 08:48:57 PM »

Honour woke up before Jack and looked over at him. He was deep in sleep but there was a frown on his face. She had only seen it a few times but it was always when he was trying to figure out  a problem. She gently kissed his forehead and he snuggled deeper into the blankets.
Zara was still sleeping peacefully so Honour quickly dressed, putting on a fresh blouse and skirt on.
'May be time for a little woman-to-woman talk with Aggie....'

She tried to be as quiet as she could but the third step squeak gave her away.
Aggie was pouring milk into a bowl for oatmeal. She looked up.
"The squeak was there on purpose. Always let me know when Tommy would come staggering up the stairs. And I knew when Angus and Edythe would try to sneak up the stairs after being out after late night shenanigans. I really should get it fixed. No need for it anymore but it is a tradition now."

Honour poured herself a cup of tea and sat down at the table while Aggie continued to work on breakfast.
"Yes, dear?"
"About what Jack said last night..."
Aggie didn't answer so Honour took a deep breath and plunged ahead.
"I want to tell you a little bit about the man I married. I know Jack doesn't want you to know about this, but we were separated for a time. We both expected different things out of each other. And in the end, Jack was willing to give up his life of pyracy for a life of domesticity. He had a hard time with it but we now have a thriving sugar plantation in Barbados and we are processing sugar cane and molasses and exporting it to the Colonies. Thomas had a letter of pardon that he pulled a few strings to get and Jack has been completely exonerated by Cromwell. He has abided by it."

Honour got up and walked over to where Aggie's chair by the hearth stood. She bent down and picked up the letter from Will Harkness and brought it over to Aggie.
"So you did read it."
Aggie poured herself some tea.
"Aye. I did."
"And what do you think? Do you believe he is sincere about his quest to find the Stone for the good of Scotland?"

Just then the front door burst open and in walked Flannery, Rafferty and Fiona. Trailing behind were Maura and Laura and half a dozen of their respective offspring.
"Alright, Gran, what was the royal summons to breakfast all about?" Rafferty demanded.

Aggie sighed. "Eat breakfast and then we shall discuss why I called you all here. But we have to wait for Jack."

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #356 on: February 17, 2017, 09:45:36 PM »
Within a few minutes, Jack walked down the stairs, Zara in his arms. As soon as she saw her cousins, she struggled to get down so she could play with them.
He picked up her stuffed bunny and looked at the family gathered around the table. Rafferty, Flannery and Fiona filled the room with their respective families.
Honour was helping Aggie take the biscuits out of the oven as Maura and Laura bustled to fill the children's plates.
Sounds of happy family times filled the air.
And outside of his home in Barbados, Jack felt like he had finally been accepted back in the MacGregor clan.
"So what is all this?"
Aggie pushed him aside and said, "Are you going to just stand there or are you going to fill a plate and fill your mouth?"
"What's the occasion, Gran?"
"I called a family meeting, that is what the occasion is. But we need to eat and there is plenty of food."
He walked over to Honour and whispered, "What is this all about?"
"I don't know. When I came down this morning, Aggie was making breakfast and then the MacGregor brigade came bursting through the door."
The chatter of happy voices filled the room as plates were filled, emptied and filled again. Children's voices filled the air and the MacGregor boys were treating Zara like she was a princess. Which wasn't hard to do because she was the first girl grandchild and held her own with the lads.
The dishes were cleared and washed as the men sat around the fireplace with their pipes and ale. Maura and Laura were riding herd on the children and Fiona helped Honour put the food into the cupboard.
Aggie stood in front of the fireplace and said, "I know you are wondering why I invited you all here."
Rafferty took a draw on his pipe.
"Don't tell me this is a farewell breakfast for Jack and Honour. Hell, we were just getting reacquainted."
Flannery said, "Aye, we like having them around."
Just then from the children came the voice, "There are too selkies! Gwan told me so. And if Gwan said it, it is true."
The adults burst out laughing. Honour said, "I have a feeling I have to go on a selkie hunt pretty soon. And I have to pretend I see one, also."
Aggie hung her apron up on a hook and said, "This is a matter of importance and some things we need to discuss."
Jack and Honour exchanged glances.
Fiona had a worried look on her face. "Gran, you aren't ill....are you?"
"Heavens no. This concerns Jack. And the reason for his visit."
Rafferty shrugged. "I thought it was to unload his swag and make amends. There is more to it?"
Aggie shook her head. "That is the 'official' reason. But the truth of the matter is this---Jack, do you want to tell them or should I?"
Jack looked around and before he could say anything, Aggie supplied the answer.
"He's here to look for the Stone of Destiny and return it to its rightful place in Scotland."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #357 on: March 01, 2017, 08:36:38 PM »
The room fell silent save for the children playing. All the adults were busy looking at Jack.
Flannery had an overflowing spoonful of eggs and gravy poised just in front of his mouth but failed to notice as it slid off and plopped back to his plate.
"Well, then," said Jack. "So much for me springing it on you. Yes. That's why I'm here. I intend to find the Stone and make sure it stays in the heart of Scotland where it belongs. And I would appreciate any help you could provide to that end.

It was Fiona who found her voice first. "Jack, in spite of it having been frowned upon, you're a bit of a legend around these parts. A daring pirate, living a life of adventure in the New World. Or so the stories go. And now you're here, promising another adventure. How would you expect us to answer?"
Jack shook his head. "Fiona, I am no hero. And I'm not a pirate anymore. I am simply a man with information and the desire to act on it for the greater good. I don't have any expectations of you. All I can do is ask, and hope for your help."
"But how can we help?" asked Maura. "The Stone was carried off by Longshanks ages ago back to London Towne. There's none of us who knows any different."

Aggie tended the fire, and her voice took on a tenor of authority as she spoke. "Tradition has it that the first born males are to be told the truth of the Stone's whereabouts, and to hold dear the hope that it will be restored to the heart of Scotland where we all know it belongs. My Tommy let it slip more than once when the whisky had his tongue. But it is not my place to say what I know. That privilege falls to Rafferty."

Jack turned to his cousin and smiled. "Well, let's have it. You've got a captive audience."
Rafferty took a long draw on his pipe and took almost as long to exhale a stream of aromatic smoke. He took enjoyment this chance to be the centre of attention.
Finally, he intoned, "The Stone of Scone, the seat of out ancestral kings, was never taken from us. That devil Edward Longshanks was given an artful forgery. He wasted no time in taking his prize back to London Towne. The actual Stone is still hidden somewhere within the borders of Scotland, waiting to be found and restored to its rightful place as Scotland's heart."
He paused and checked the bowl of his pipe. "That's the tale at any rate. The Stone is out there, 'tween hill and dale, somewhere. Exactly where is anyone's guess."
"That's not true," Fiona countered. "There's the Riddle."
Rafferty shook his head. "The daft Riddle. We'd be better off reading tea leaves or wandering the glens with dowsing sticks. Maybe then one of us will trip over the damned Stone if it even exists. We'd sooner find the queen of the selkies!"
Zara perked up immediately. "Selkies? Where? I want to see!"

"Rafferty MacGregor, bite your tongue!" cried Maura.
"All I'm saying is that people have looked high and low for years, for ages, and found nothing," he countered. "Even with the Riddle in hand, it's a dead end. Maybe that's the point of it."
Laura crossed her arms in disgust. "Thank heavens there are a few of us who don't give up so easily."
Rafferty started to reply, then sighed and dug in his tobacco pouch to refill his pipe.
"Or," said Jack, "it's a very clever riddle. I do love riddles. And I'm dying to hear this one."
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #358 on: April 05, 2017, 07:33:59 PM »
Fiona sat up and cleared her throat. "I know it! It goes like this—"
"Wait, how do you know the Riddle?!" said Rafferty.
"Right, that's enough," interrupted Jack. "Sorry, Fiona, I appreciate that you know it, but I need to hear this from Rafferty."
"Why him?" she demanded.
"Because he's a cynic. I've found that besides wringing the fun out of everything, cynics bring a gravity that true believers lack. No criticism of you, Fiona. Please humour me this."
She nodded and went back to picking at her food.
"Rafferty, if you please?" said Jack.
"Um, all right. Yeah. Since it's my right anyway."
Fiona crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue.
"It's a completely daft, mind you," said Rafferty.
Jack smiled. "I've had the same said of me. It's fine."
"Right, here it is—

A false Stone made as prize for a false King
the True one spirited away 'ere his coming
to rest in lands betwixt the two
seen yet not beheld from one
concealed forever from the other

Where the shield of Rome presses north
then follows waters toward the rising sun
ten miles and four
take rest beneath ancient oak
and gaze beside the broken tower
Speak the words, 'Viva Scotia.'

I told you it was completely daft."

"Brilliantly daft," said Jack. He steepled his fingers as he contemplated the riddle. "Fiona, this is the same riddle you know?"
"Word for word."
"Brilliant. The Minoans would be impressed. It has to be precise directions."
"People have tried for over three hundred years to find it, with no success at all," said Flannery.
"Remind me to tell you sometime of an impossible island that was a gigantic maze," said Jack.
Flannery looked at Honour, who smiled and nodded.
"Do you want the riddle written down for you?" asked Aggie. "Now that the cat's out of the bag, I see no reason not to."
"No, I've got the gist of it," said Jack. "And I've got something better than paper when I need it."
"And what's that?"
He pointed at Fiona and Rafferty. "I've got their heads. And they're both coming along on the expedition. Not just their heads. The rest of them, too. I hate to break up a set."

"An expedition?" said Fiona. "When?"
"We leave in two weeks," said Jack. "I'll put together a roster of those going along."
"I'll save you the trouble," said Aggie. "You and Honour, Rafferty, Flannery, and Fiona. I'll gladly care for the wee bairn."
"But what about us?" said Maura.
"You and Laura have your homes to tend. These have a higher stake than you two."
"Aye, Gran," the twins said sullenly.
"That's it, then," said Jack. "I have a riddle to solve and maps to ponder. And we have the Stone to discover. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready for more of Aggie's scones!"
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« Reply #359 on: April 14, 2017, 07:07:32 PM »
"Jack? I think we need to talk."
Jack sat on the bed, maps and papers spread out all over.
He looked at the maps, writing notes on a piece of paper.
"I know this is important to you...."
"This phrase 'a false Stone for a false king...has to be Edward. It can be no other."
"Lands between the two....lands....could be Wales and England but no....it has to be Scotland."
"I think....."
"This seen but not beheld is perplexing. Does it mean we can see it but we can't touch it? Is it high up somewhere?"
"I don't know...."
"Shield of Rome...shield...could it mean an army? Or maybe a symbol for a caesar? There were no Roman kings...."
"But, Jack, we need to...."
"And these waters toward the fading sun. That can only mean west."
"But what waters?"
"I'm sure I don't know..."
"Could it be the River Irthing? It starts here and follows parallel to it..."
"I am..."
He looked up. "Honour, do you realize what it would mean to stand there at a tower, whisper Viva Scotia and then have the Stone right there?"

Honour looked at him and gave him a small smile.
He took her hands and said, "Together we will unite Scotland under its rightful rulers!"
She could see how excited he was.
She touched his cheek.
"Just as long as you don't let it get in the way of what really matters in life."
He rolled his maps up and stashed the notes in the desk drawer.
"I don't think I have been this excited since..."
"Since the scrolls?"
"Yes. Maybe we are born treasure hunters, Honour."
She drew the blankets back.
She got into bed and Jack followed suit.
"Imagine. Finding the Stone after all this time."
She quietly said, "Yes. Imagine. Goodnight, Jack."
He blew out the candle.
"I can't imagine anything else being this exciting."
From the dark she said quietly, "No, I guess you couldn't. Goodnight, darling."
"Goodnight, my love."
With that he blew the candle out.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

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